The symbol chosen for these annual conferences is the Cosmic Thunderbolt: Sanskrit vajra, Tibetan dorje, and Japanese kongō. This enigmatic “weapon of the gods” directly links a global theme of antiquity to the leading edge of plasma science.
It’s not surprising that few scholars and scientists have paused to wonder about our early forebear’s fascination with the thunderbolt image, or the extraordinary things said about it. Most researcher’s routinely assume that the ancient sky was essentially identical to our sky today, leaving little to wonder about. As today, so before.
Nevertheless, a remarkable fact leaps out to us from the ancient cultures. While the modern interpretation sees the image as a fanciful lightning bolt, it does not look like lightning at all. It’s earliest and most common form is bipolar, a feature never exhibited by terrestrial lightning. But the archaic image presents a stunning match to electrical phenomena in space and in laboratory experiments. This match is far too precise to be accidental.
In virtually all of the ancient depictions—just as in laboratory discharge experiments—the morphologies of the discharge evolve out of an axial “jet.” The axial column is always present. But where is the jet in the “butterfly” nebular forms shown above? Two or three decades ago, the question might have gone unanswered. But now, thanks to the advanced ways we see objects in space, we know the axial jet is there, exhibiting the very serpentine form commonly associate with the evolving thunderbolt image (the Lightning Serpent archetype). You can see it in motion in the Wings of a Butterfly Nebula at the bottom of the page here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetary_Nebula_M2-9
The ancient accounts describe thunder gods roaring in the heavens or hurling a “thunder-weapon” against monstrous intruders. What would it mean were we to give tentative credence to this global memory? It would mean radical new opportunities for interdisciplinary investigation, with profound implications for modern science.
The cosmic thunderbolt directs us to space age discovery, while also illuminating the dark corners of human history. It invites us to compare telescopic images from space to the anciently-remembered events. Laboratory experiments with intense electric discharge will then find an indispensable place next to prehistoric rock art, where we observe identical formations carved on stone.
By following this path of exploration, we arrive at an extraordinary conclusion. Our ancestors lived beneath an electrified sky, a source of awe and terror. And they preserved a permanent record of the events on the rocks around them. Earth-shaking spectacles produced an explosion of human imagination, as the celestial provocation left its imprint globally, in the mythic and symbolic archetypes that shaped every early civilization.
For further reference, view Seeking the Third Story, a presentation given at EU2012 by David Talbott.